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16 posts from June 2009

June 30, 2009

It's the Toners, bro

Tones00_foryoucansee_wknd_hI felt like a spy from Babyboomerland when I went to the Toners in Time show in Coral Gables on Sunday.  The creation of playwrights Marco Ramirez, Lucas Leyva and Alex Fumero  (the guys behind the new Foryoucansee Theater company),  Toners in Time was a brash creative attempt to get the club crowd to try theater.  It worked, and not just because the tickets were only $10 each.

Thanks to a combination of funny writing and acting, booming faux reggaeton, multimedia daring, and a free-flowing combo of Caldas rum and Jupiña (probably the audience's favorite sponsors), the 100 people crammed into New Theatre's too-tight-for-the-Toners quarters realized that original, Miami-centric theater can be fun.

The Miami references, everything from Turkey Point to Sunset Place to the Youth Fair, flew as fast as that Back to the Future Delorean (though the one parked outside the theater Sunday night set off the smoke alarm -- don't ask).  The script was basically in English, but if you knew Spanish and/or Spanglish, you got way more of the jokes. The acting -- by Fumero as nerdish Che-Frio, Danny Monsalve as reggaeton dreamer Tito, Giordan Diaz as skinny reggaeton heavyweight Flipi, Cristi Garcia as the has-groupie-tendencies Anisette, and Erik Fabregat as a record mogul-wannabe and a Walter Mercado doppelganger -- was the bomb.  Particularly cool was the way Foryoucansee used multimedia:  Fabregat's parts were on video (the actor himself was in the audience), and the live performers interacted with his image.

Among the lessons learned:  Don't do an original show for just three performances in a 100-seat venue.  Tighten up transitions between scenes.  Don't start serving the Caldas and Jupiña too early if you want the audience to pay attention.  And if you want anyone older than 29 in the audience, stick a little guide to the script's place-and-pop-culture references in the program.

Next episode in the Toners Live!saga goes up in August, probably Aug. 21-23, though not at New Theatre, which will be in rehearsals for The Taming of the Shrew then.  Keep checking the Foryoucansee web site for info on exactly when/where you can catch Back to Bassics, which looks to have some sort of Star Wars vibe to it.

June 26, 2009

A musical with bite

Cannibalthemusical1996dvd-600x450 Never a company to let a little thing like a recession stand in its way, Davie's resourceful The  Promethean Theatre is trekking ahead with its plans to end summer on a light note with Cannibal! The Musical -- Live on Stage.

An adaptation of a student movie that South Park co-creator Trey Parker made while he was at the University of Colorado/Boulder, Cannibal! The Musical laughably re-tells the story of real-life gold miner Alferd Packer.  Packer traveled through the Colorado Territory in 1873 with a group of fellow miners and, after a series of dire life-threatening mishaps, ended up consuming parts of his companions.

Parker's 1996 movie, which featured himself and South Park co-creator Matt Stone, contained references to Star Trek, Les Miserables, Friday the 13th and much more.

Promethean's version, to be directed by Margaret M. Ledford, will star William Adams, Katherine Amadeo, Jeffrey Bower, Anne Chamberlain, James Carrey, Matthew William Chizever, Ken Clement, Phillip de la Cal, Mark Della Ventura, Mark Duncan, Andy Fiacco, Ed Fitzpatrick, Lindsey Forgey, Dan Gelbmann, Noah Levine, David Meulmans, Sean Muldoon, Andy Quiroga and Patrick Jesse Watkins. Whew!

Cannibal! The Musical plays the Black Box Theatre at Nova Southeastern University's University Arts Center, 3301 College Ave. in Davie, From Aug. 21-Sept. 6. (Caution to all you direction-challenged people:  Promethean uses two spaces at Nova, and this is the one in the big arts center.)  Tickets are $25 ($15 for seniors 65 and over, $10 for students 25 and younger).  For information, call 786-317-7580 or visit the Promethean web site.

June 23, 2009

Farewell to a super critic

Lois Baumoel, a theater critic for more than 50 years, passed away a week ago.  She had a wonderful, long life -- she was 93 when she died -- but losing someone special is always sad.  And Lois was special.

She worked as a critic in Cleveland, her hometown, and told me that Lois Lane in the Superman comics was named for her.  How true that is I never knew, but I loved the story.  I met Lois long after she had moved to Palm Beach County and began working as a critic for Focus magazine.  I would see this chic, tiny, white-haired lady at one opening after another, and eventually we got to talking.  And became friends.

Lois was active in the Carbonell Awards program and the American Theatre Critics' association, traveling to cities all over the United States for conferences.  I remember her tottering up a hill in San Francisco, dressed to the nines (as she always was), determined not to miss a moment of theatergoing or fun.

She formed strong, long-lasting connections with the many people whose lives she touched.  One of those was J. Wynn Rousuck -- Judy -- the longtime theater critic for the Baltimore Sun. Judy was Lois' goddaughter, and when Lois spoke of her, she glowed.

Lois also touched my son Sean's life in a special way.  I was older when Sean was born, and my parents both died before he turned nine.  He got to know Lois (who loved kids) at South Florida shows and an American Theatre Critics' meeting in Oregon.  Eventually, Lois said to him, "You can call me Grandma." And he did.

Anyone wanting to honor Lois' memory can make a contribution to the Lois Baumoel Scholarship Fund for Theater Students, Randolph College, 2500 Rivermont Ave., Lynchburg, VA 24503.  It's a fitting way to remember a truly generous, kind, lovely lady.

June 22, 2009

Orsino woos a movie star

TwelfthNight07 Raúl Esparza opens this week in William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night at the Delacorte Theater in New York's Central Park. The Miami-raised actor and four-time Tony award nominee is playing Orsino, and he's part of an impressive cast that includesAudra McDonald, Jay O. Sanders, Hamish Linklater, David Pittu and Julie White.  Oh, and a movie star making her New York stage debut:  Anne Hathaway.

The advance buzz on the show is terrific; some who have seen the show in previews think the Dan Sullivan-directed show is one of the best Public Theater Shakespeare productions in years.

Twelfth Night opens Thursday, June 25, and runs through July 12, should you happen to be in New York during that too-brief window of time.  Tickets are free and, clearly, in demand.  For more info, visit the Public's web site.

(Photo by Joan Marcus)

June 19, 2009

A caliente "Fuerza Bruta"

Water12_fuerza_dade_ahkFuerza Bruta, that surreal entertainment event unfolding almost nightly on the Ziff Ballet Opera House stage at Miami's Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, is packing in the hands-on club-going types who normally wouldn't be caught dead going to the hoity-toity stuff they think of as theater.  The Arsht is again reaching out to that new young audience by releasing a new block of tickets and offering a limited number of $20 rush tickets an hour before each performance.

Performances of Fuerza Bruta, which runs through July 5, are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, with 10 p.m. late shows on Friday and Saturday.  Experiencing the production is different in myriad ways: You enter through the Opera House loading docks, chill out before and after with music, drinks and food in the G-Lounge, then get taken onto the stage where you stand, gawk, move around and occasionally brush up against the action for an hour.

Regular tickets are priced at $63.75 and $73.75.  The Arsht is located at 1300 Biscayne Blvd., but you enter through the loading docks on NE 14th St.  For info, call 305-949-6722, or visit the Arsht Center or Fuerza Bruta web sites.

June 18, 2009

Unhinged again

GaslightPoster-for-web Unhinged Theatre, a company of Florida International University grads (and a few students), debuted last December with a production of José Rivera's References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot in North Miami. Back for a second show starting June 26, the group is taking things in a new direction, both geographically and thematically.

In association with FIU's Alternative Theatre, Unhinged is producing Patrick Hamilton's thriller Gaslight.  Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotton starred in the 1944 movie about Bella and Jack Manningham, a deliciously creepy tale of a husband trying to drive his wife crazy.

The drama happens at the ArtSouth Sanctuary Performing Arts Center, 250 N. Krome Ave., Homestead.  Performances are 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday, from June 26 to July 5.  Tickets are $15 ($10 for students, seniors and military personnel), payable by cash or check.  For more info, contact unhingedtheatre@gmail.com.

June 17, 2009

Let the games begin

Paul Tei Though the recent Broadway revival of David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow will be forever linked to jokes about Jeremy Piven's sushi overload, the fact remains that the incendiary three-character play can be a powerful piece of theater.  GableStage's Joseph Adler certainly thinks so.  Having decided to postpone the August world premiere of Michael McKeever's Lewd and Lascivious, he has filled the gap with Speed-the-Plow, Mamet's 1988 play about two movie business sharks and the calculating young woman who comes between them.

Gregg weiner Adler, who is busy getting ready to open Paul Rudnick's The New Century on Saturday, hasn't yet cast the role of Karen, the secretary played by Madonna (in the Broadway original) and Man Menstar Elisabeth Moss (one of Piven's hapless costars, RaúlEsparza being the other).   But he has already secured the services of two take-no-prisoners Carbonell Award-winning actors to play Bobby Gould and Charlie Fox:  Gregg Weiner and Paul Tei.

Sounds like must-see theater, no?

Speed-the-Plowwill be at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, from Aug. 15 to Sept. 13.  For info, call the box office at 305-443-1119 or visit the GableStage web site.

June 16, 2009

FAU does Shakespeare and Sondheim

Fest Rep actorsFlorida Atlantic University's 2009 Festival Repertory Theatre kicks off this weekend with William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night(a play that also happens to be running in New York's Central Park, with ex-Miamian Raúl Esparza playing Orsino to Anne Hathaway's Viola).  Directed by Jean-Louis Baldet, FAU's Twelfth Night is set in 1920s-era Hollywood.  It runs though July 12, with performances at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday (June 20), 2 p.m. Sunday (June 21), 8 p.m. June 26-27 and July 10-11, 2 p.m. June 27 and July 11-12.

Joining it in rep July 3-26 is Stephen Sondheim's Company, a 1970 musical about a New York bachelor named Bobby and his seemingly happy married pals. (That one also has an Esparza connection: He earned a 2007 Tony Award nomination for playing Bobby in the Broadway revival.)  Performances of Company are at 8 p.m. July 3, July 17-18 and July 24-25; 2 p.m. July 5, July 18-19 and July 25-26; 4 p.m. July 4.

Tickets to each show are $15 and $20.  For information, call 1-800-564-9539 or visit the FAU eventsweb page.  Performances are in the University Theatre on the campus at 777 Glades Rd., Boca Raton.  As part of its Summer Festival Second Stage, FAU is also presenting brief runs of John Cariani's Almost, Maine (July 9, July 16 and July 22) and Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde(July 12, July 19 and July 23).  All performances are at 8 p.m. in the university's Studio One Theatre, with tickets priced at $5.

Want a taste of what's to come? FAU is offering a free preview of numbers from Company and other Broadway shows, plus a piano performance by music department chair Heather Coltman at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mizner Park Amphitheatre in Boca Raton.

(Summer Rep company members Bruce Linser, Cassie Greer, Alexa Cappiello and Tim Marriott are shown in the photo.)

June 14, 2009

A pay-for-play reading

Tpt_reverse_logo-440x71Kim William Kerlin will be in the house Monday evening when The Promethean Theatre reads Gun Play, a play about "how ordinary people react when they are confronted with extraordinary situations."

Artistic director Margaret M. Ledford directs Katherine Amadeo, Mark Della Ventura, Monica Hererra, Andy Quiroga, Joshua David Robinson and David Sirois in the reading at 7:30 p.m. at Nova Southeastern University's Mailman Hollywood Theatre, 3301 College Ave. in Davie.  Kerlin, Ledford and the cast will participate in a talk-back after.

Promethean is holding the event as a fund-raiser and asking those who attend to pay what they can.  For info, call 786-317-7580.

June 12, 2009

What summer lull?

It has been a long, long time since South Florida theaters went into summer hibernation.  There are plenty of shows to choose from this weekend, including Fuerza Bruta, Celia and Summer Shorts at the ArshtTu ternura Molotov at Area Stage; Dream Theatre's La Gaviota at New Theatre; El inconveniente at Teatro 8,In a Dark Dark House at Mosaic;  Bent at Rising Action, and the Tony Bennett tribute show I Left My Heart at Broward Stage Door.

Next week brings three more productions, each worth checking out for different reasons.

Kim Ehly - Rachel Corrie Alliance Theatre Lab is finally doing what Mosaic Theatre tried to do two years ago: open a production of the controversial My Name Is Rachel Corrie.  Kim Ehly plays the American activist who was killed in 2003 by an Israeli-operated bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.  Artistic director Adalberto Acevedo has received some negative feedback from people who feel Corrie was naive and that the play (put together by Alan Rickman and Katherine Viner from Corrie's journal entries, letters and e-mails) is blatantly biased toward the Palestinians Corrie was trying to help. 

But the company is forging ahead, opening My Name Is Rachel Corrie on Thursday, June 18, and running it through July 5.  Alliance performs at the Main Street Playhouse, 6766 Main St. in Miami Lakes, with shows at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 p.m. Sunday (matinee at 2 p.m. June 28, no show July 4).  Tickets are $24 ($15 for students and seniors).  Call 305-259-0418 or visit the Alliance web site.

OnAnAverageDay-presspic-1Ground Up & Rising, which generated great buzz with its production of John Kolvenbach's On an Average Day when it performed the show as a fundraiser at GableStage, opens June 19 for a two-weekend run at Miami Beach's Byron Carlyle Theater, 500 71st St.  Arnaldo Carmouze and Ground Up artistic director Arturo Fernandez play very different brothers who reunite after a lengthy estrangement to confront a volatile past.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday through June 27 (the show moves to ArtSouth in Homestead July 10-19).  Tickets are $25 ($15 for students, seniors, residents of the 33141 zip code, military personnel, Theatre League members and members of Actors' Equity and SAG). Whew.  Call 305-529-6233 or visit the Ground Up web site.

New Century Image 4AAnd finally, for anyone desperately in need of some laughs (basically, everyone), there's The New Century opening June 20 at GableStage.  Paul Rudnick's riotous script may seem a little familiar -- two of its monologues were done as stand-alone plays in past Summer Shorts festivals -- but GableStage's Joseph Adler has assembled a wickedly funny cast (including John Felix as tres gay cable access host Mr. Charles, gazing admiringly at Daniel Landon's Robin).

The New Centuryruns through July 19, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday (no late show June 21).  GableStage performs at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.  Tickets are $42.50 Friday-Saturday and Sunday matinees, $37.50 other performances.  Call 304-445-1119 or visit the company's web site.